Apple Watch

John’s mom getting an Apple Watch (RL300)

As they recorded the episode in September of 2018, John's mom was talking to him in the background, telling him that she was on her way down to Apple. It had just been her birthday and they got her an Apple Watch, but it didn’t have all the functionality she was looking for. Now she wanted the cell one with the red dot and she was headed down to red-dot it up with those people.

Merlin’s Apple Watch broke, but he still has his Fitbit and his very old shitty Apple Watch. It can’t be repaired and at the time of recording it was too close to announcing the next one, so Merlin was roundly talked out of buying a new red dot. Instead he should wait like a big boy for the next one, but it sucked because it took forever for Siri to hear him. There might be a pretty good chance that there would be a new one next month and John called his mom back in before she left the house to tell her that Merlin might advise her to wait.

In the end Merlin said that life is short and she should probably get the red dot today instead of waiting because it is a very good watch. John's mom said that she is not the bleeding edge type, but John would never get one of these things and she is the tech-savvy one in the family. She is also decisive and it sounded like she knew what she wanted. By talking about this topic, Merlin and John validated their placement in iTunes as a Mac Podcast. ”Welcome to watch talk with horologist John Roderick” Merlin hates the word ”Horologist”

John thinking about getting an Apple Watch (RL306)

On a Sunday in September of 2018 at 8:42pm Merlin received a text from John ”If you gonna get a new Apple Watch, do you get the stainless one or not?”, but he needed some context for this because there was a lot wound up in that question. Merlin did not even know this was a consideration because John does not like computer devices and it didn’t sound he was asking for a friend, but John was so tired of carrying the Internet around with him! Every passing day he got more and more less and less with the Internet. It is in service of zilch and bobcup!

John wants a way to have the things he needs, but not too much of the things he doesn’t want. For instance, he did not need to see the video of the shirtless dad with his shirtless son with guns confronting the guy in the orange shirt in the driveway about a mattress. He especially didn’t need it in the middle of the day. If he wanted to pad down into his lair at 1am with his bathrobe on to watch the video of the guy with the orange shirt and the two guys with the guns, he could do it in the middle of the night, but he doesn’t need that during the day.

As time went on, John was looking at his phone, wondering: What are my basic needs here? Your phone becomes your digital every-day carry. John tried to go without the phone, but he cannot live without it because he has a child and people are trying to communicate with him all the time. Friends are sending him pictures of their children and he needs at least be able to be on top of business. For a while he thought he was going to get a flip phone (see RL259) and he was going to be a guy with a waxed mustache who rolls up the cuffs of his Levi’s, who wears a Stetson, and who carries a flip phone. He could be that guy, he is not that far away from that guy, but he is not quite ready to be that guy.

Wanting an LTE watch and leave his phone at home

John’s mom recently got an Apple Watch Series 3 (see RL300) and she seems happy with it and interacts with it. John doesn’t know if she is using it to its full capacity or if she is using all its capabilities. It has LTE and she can make phone calls with it and that is the one John is going to get. The goal is to leave the phone at home and just be out living in the world with the watch. He will have to say ”Siri, text Merlin that I would love to see a picture with him and his daughter” or he could look down to get the fastest route to the nearest Arby's or have texts read to him. If the phone rings, it will be something like ”Siri, where are the meats? Donde esta los carnes? Where is the beef, lol! Pond”

Merlin has a British voice for his Siri and demonstrates it on the show. He dictates a text to John ”May I mambo dogface to the banana patch?” (which is a Steve Martin bit) and it got it right. The watch is imperfect, but it is doable for some periods of time and it could restore some life to John’s life. The only thing John is sad about is that there is no camera. In this problem statement John has identified his phone as an attractive nuisance. "I do not want it, Sam I am, I do not want green phone and ham. I do not want it in my crotch, I would like it on my watch”

The importance of the Internet will fade

John is not going to have a camera, but Instagram has stopped being 100% fun anyway and like the vintage guitar market or the sound of Indie Rock: When you are in the middle of it, you can never foresee a time when it would no longer be. There is still a vintage guitar market, but it is nothing like it was when John was learning the trade. There will always be an Internet, but John doesn’t think it is going to be as important to us as it is now and it is not going to be as important as we imagine it is going to be.

John does not think we are just at the beginning of a thing where the Internet is going to subsume us all, although we always imagined that was going to happen. Instead the Internet is a useless piece of shit 98% of the time that sensible people are going to abandon in droves. For instance, podcasts are via the Internet, but podcasts are not the Internet, they are not on the Internet, they are just via the Internet.

For a lot of the things that we like, the map program and communicating with our friends, the Internet is just a series of tubes, which is what uncle Ted (Stevens) said. Social media made you think of the Internet as a universe where we are wandering around all these rooms and we can’t leave, but we can totally leave and we can have all the best parts: We can still have podcasts without being on the Internet, we can still share photos, even without… John doesn’t even want to say the words ”Social Media” because he feels so disgusted by it.

Anyway: John is going to get an Apple Watch! And he is going to say ”Siri, text Merlin Bugbear banana pants Frankenstein Frankensense” and Siri will get to know John and he will have her speak in a German accent.

Every single person John mentioned the iWatch [sic] to said that it will alert the cops if he would fall down. What the fuck are you talking about? If he falls down? That is one of the 5 things they claim it does, but it doesn’t do anything! Merlin counters that with the Series 3 it has become a lot more capable and he doesn’t agree that things like fall detection are the only good part of it. Merlin continues to explain what the Apple Watch can do and how you can configure your notifications to show different things on your watch than on your phone. John doesn’t get a ton of notifications anyway, but what he doesn’t want is access to Twitter at all. Merlin recommends John to start out with the stock configuration, learn what it can do and go from there.

John got an Apple Watch (RL310)

Merlin needs to talk to John about the Internet of things because a lot of the time John is 3-4 years ahead of what he wants his technology to do compared to what it can actually do. Every day he is wondering if that is really the best his Apple Watch can do. There are at least 7 ways to track how many times he pees every day, but he doesn’t want any of that. The other day the watch decided that he was on a walk while he was driving 40 mph (65 km/h) and it thought he ran 12 miles (20 km).

Walkie Talkie

Adam Pranica asked John if he would Walkie-Talkie with him (a function of the Apple Watch) and when John looked down on his watch, all of a sudden Adam Pranica’s little page was on there and it said Walkie-Talkie on the top with a ”+”-symbol. John is not sure whether that means that Adam wants to talk to him or if he accidentally went onto that page. He doesn't know what happens if he presses that ”+”-button. Merlin requests to talk to John over Walkie-Talkie during the show and they are playing around with it for a while until it stopped working. Sometimes it is difficult to know why things are happening or not happening. John apparently also invited his mom to Walkie-Talkie, but she ghosted him. Merlin finds all that a terrible idea. There was a brand of phone in the late 1990s / early 2000s that had a Walkie-Talkie functionality built in.

Merlin wonders when people stopped learning how to hold a phone to their ear to talk and started doing speaker phone for everything! For John that is zero times except now he has this stupid watch which won’t allow him to do things without talking to it. They both play with Siri, sending texts to each other saying that the other one is a dingeling, like ”Hey Siri, tell Merlin he is a dingeling” and the other way around. John likes the thing where you can draw letters on it. He started talking about getting an Apple Watch in RL306 because he wanted to leave his phone at home, which has proven to be ambitious because John has been a zero amount of Siri user before.

Wearing the watch at the inside of the wrist

The initial challenge has been that John wears his watch on his inside left wrist, which he learned from his dad. When you are a pilot you want to have both hands at your yoke and still look down at your watch, but airplanes probably had a clock in the dash. You had a picture of your best gal pinned to the dash, a map of Iwo Jima, your watch on your inside wrist and a 45 in your shoulder holster to shoot a Zero (Mitsubishi A6M Zero) out of the sky. John put his Apple Watch on his inside left wrist to start with, but the watch couldn’t figure it out and every time he turned his wrist and lifted it up, the watch turned itself off.

John looked into it and read some message boards. The Apple engineers had thought about the fact that people would want it on different wrists and there are two configurations where you can have left wrist/right wrist, but it still doesn’t work. Apple has calibrated the little radars, the hot links in the back that zap your precious bodily fluids, for outside wrist, but the inside wrist is where all your veins are and it should be way easier. The message boards said that if the watch is on the inside wrist, it can’t figure it out and will tell you that your heart is beating 700 beats per minute.

It seems like a thing where the Apple engineers have a prejudice. Not enough people have Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome for the medicine people to invest the money to find a cure and who wears their watch on their inside wrist? Not enough people so the Apple engineers would feel like they have to worry about it. Apple doesn’t support the troops! What about the troops and the first responders? What about a C47 pilot flying over Iwo Jima who doesn’t want to take their hand off the yoke!

All of a sudden John had to wear his watch on the outside of his wrist, which he had never done and it makes him feel like going outside without his glasses on because everywhere he goes his watch is facing out into the world. Everybody can see it and it is going to get scraped if John has to go over a fence. That was the first thing he had to accept and couldn’t fight, which is normally what he would do. For a week and a half he kept it on his inside wrist and thought he was going to stick it to the man, but he bought an expensive thing that he cannot wear the way he wants.

John put the watch on the outside where the snorks wear it and where the man makes him wear it, but he didn’t flip it back around from when he had told it that he was wearing it at his right wrist, which meant that his little dongle button (Digital Crown) was on the bottom left corner of the watch because it is flipped around, which is great because he can control the button dongle with his thumb, which is the digit he prefers wheels and buttons with.

John went online and asked if this is a thing and he found a whole sub-community of people who think that this was the correct hack, the flip-around thumb button hack. At least he felt like he was in some subculture here that was not the snork-culture. Some people asked him why his button was on the wrong side, but John just replied ”Why don’t you go to your regular job, snork?”

Trying to leave his phone at home

One of the things John uses his phone for is maps. He likes maps and he likes to see what is going on, but he doesn’t like directions. He will put in the destination, look at the map and then close it out. He doesn’t want the phone telling him where to go and he doesn’t want Google knowing where he went. If you go onto the Google, it has an option of telling where you have been all the last year, which seemed cool, but according to Google John hasn’t been anywhere in the last year. He had been at his house and a couple of different locations in Seattle, which was disappointing, but maybe that was just another hack.

Merlin suspects that it is gathering that information from different sources, like when John is using his browser, which he mostly does at home. He is mostly looking on eBay at some of the heroism medals from the Austro-Hungarian empire and it doesn’t know how to market to John yet. John can see the map where he is going on the watch and it will allow him to put in a destination, but then it just wants to take over and John can’t get it to turn off and get back to the map. He just wants to look down at a map and pinch it and move it and spread it and slap it and give it a little swat, and then he wants it to sit on his lap and tell him that it has been a good girl, which sounded weird, but it was not meant to.

The watch has freed John somewhat from his phone during the day, but it still feels a little bit unsafe. He can communicate with people, he is tethered to the world, but it still feels like it might fail in an emergency situation. Merlin says that having a mobile phone is not reliable either and one of the three times a year he actually wants to make a phone call it will not work. John is so ready for it to do things, he crossed the membrane, he is on the other side now, he is one of the people who has one of these, but he now just wants it to do the things that he wants, which seems like not that much.

Technology lacking behind

John doesn’t want to turn Matt Haughey’s thermostat up, he doesn’t want it to shut off the ignition of his car, he doesn’t want it to cause Korean Fan Death, he just wants it to show him maps, send texts reliably, and sometimes make phone calls, although not really. Merlin says that the watch has come a very long way in terms of the quality of the microphone and the speaker. You have to learn how it wants to be talked to or interacted with, which is not so different from learning the command line of DOS.

They continue to talk about the problems with voice control and with the limited watch functionality. One of the problems is that you cannot get to a specific date on the calendar, but John managed to tell Siri to add his dentist appointment at 2pm on the 26th of October 2018. There are 42 different ways to take his underarm temperature, but all he wants to do is use the calendar app. Also: There is no Notes app!

Suffice to say, the technology is a long way from John being able to look at the 9 security cameras he has in the backyard of his new house that he hasn’t bought yet (see Mid-century modern), but that is what he really wants, like ”Delilah, bring up camera 5!”, because you have the resolution there to look at a camera image. ”Delilah, eliminate the squirrel with laser canons!”

Merlin still has the Amazon lady in his office and talks to her all the time. He asks her who the Mother of Dragons is. The lady in the tube is way better at understanding what you said and giving you what you want. Merlin makes her play Carparts by The Long Winters on Spotify, but at first she understood Car Parts and Linens by Goodnight, Texas.

John's first contact with the Internet

For John the watch and the Internet of Things are a transition from Web 2.0. Merlin doesn’t want to take over-credit for introducing John to Web 2.0 or other things, but the only reason he can feel any credit or blame for John’s interest in a lot of computer-things is that John was really actively not interested in a lot of it. He didn’t have a scratch of curiosity and part of his early objection was that he didn’t want to be over-exposed as a Rock guy. He also didn’t know why he would do this. John didn’t want to be on some Internet where people could say things to him. Just send a letter to his label and they will send you some stickers and that is the level of interaction John wanted to have.

Did Christopher ever answer John’s email? No, John still has an email that he composed to Christopher that was 15 pages long and it was the end of their friendship. Why would John want to be on the Internet? He saw almost all downside to it. John remembers that Merlin stood in front of one of those easels with a big notepad of paper on it, he flipped the old page over the top and he drew two little triangles with the letters BR in the middle, which was an HTML joke, back when he was Merlin Mann, and he assured John that it was super-funny if you knew what that was.

Merlin also had some really funny jokes about Web 2.0 and Flickr is a really good example of this. They made it really fun to put photos on the Internet, they made it easy to do, they made it easy to share, they encouraged a certain amount of editorial thinking and they had a great community. It was before there was a vocabulary, taxonomy, and culture around how we try to make other people envious about our life.

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